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Global Smartphones Market: Dynamics & Top Vendors

10 Aug 2018 • by Natalie Aster

LONDON – Nowadays, around a third of people leaving all over the world are using a smartphone. Western Europe is at the forefront of smartphones adoption, as almost 65% of the region’s population own a smartphone – it is over twice the figure of the year 2012. As for North America, appr. 64% of the local population own a smartphone – nearly a 13% gain since 2014. The smallest regional market for smartphones is MEA – there smartphone penetration stands at only 13.6%. Meanwhile, APAC is the most rapidly growing market in terms of smartphones penetration, spurred by the rapidly mounting demand from the developing countries.

Over 2014-2017, the world’s smartphone user penetration added more than 10% and reached 32.3% of the world’s total population. The penetration of smartphones is anticipated to keep on gaining momentum at a brisk pace in the coming years: in 2018, it is set to reach 34.7%, and, in 2021, will likely go up to 40%.  

Smartphone user penetration globally (in % of the global population)

Smartphone user penetration globally (in of the global population)


During 2017 and early 2018, the world’s smartphones market has witnessed a steady decline in shipments volume. This is majorly attributed to a weakening demand from the developed countries, where replacement cycles are lengthening along with smartphones’ designs and features are reaching its peak. At the same time, emerging markets still offer an array of lucrative opportunities for the vendors of smartphones. Meantime, the increasing sales prices of smartphones are boosting the growth of the overall market value.

The volume of the global smartphones shipments has demonstrated an impressive growth from 2009 to 2014: from just 173.5 million units to above 1.3 billion. It is continued to see healthy growth till 2016, however, at a slower pace. In 2017, the volume of smartphone shipments worldwide exhibited a slight decline of around 8 million units and totaled appr. 1.465 billion units. It is set to continue following a downward trend: an estimated 1.462 billion smartphones are projected to be shipped during the current year.

The emerging markets are the major growth engines of smartphones shipments globally. China and India together are anticipated to account for about 37% of the world’s total smartphone shipments by the year 2019. Meantime, North America and Europe show weak dynamics in terms of smartphone shipments over the recent past and are slated to grab shares of 10% and 14% of the global smartphone shipments by 2019, respectively.

World’s smartphones shipments volume and sales revenues over 2013 – 2017

World’s smartphones shipments volume and sales revenues over 2013 – 2017

Meantime, the value of the world’s smartphone market has witnessed robust growth during the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, it amounted to USD 478.7 billion, registering a YoY increase by nearly 8.8%.

Amid countries, China is the top revenue generator in the world’s smartphones market; the country generated around USD 130 billion from smartphone sales in 2017. The second most profitable smartphones market is the US with sales revenues reaching USD 55.6 billion last year.

As for operating systems, smartphones with the Android OS grabs a lion’s market share of almost 82%. Android has taken the lead in smartphones sales from pole to pole for more than 10 last years. Apple’s iOS is in the second position in the global smartphones sales structure, majorly owing to a considerable upturn in iPhones sales during the past several years.


To date, 10 dominant players in the smartphone market together grab a share of appr. 76%, leaving above 600 other brands to compete fiercely for the remaining 24%.

Whilst Samsung and Apple continue to hold sway over buyers of smartphones globally and are firmly holding their leading positions, some Chinese brands (like Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo) have been gaining ground at a swift pace during the recent years. Today, Chinese smartphone brands hold a share of around 48% of the world’s smartphone market. Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi are amid the top 5 vendors of smartphones in the world.

World’s smartphone shipments from Q1 2016 to Q2 2018, by vendor (in million units) World’s smartphone shipments from Q1 2016 to Q2 2018, by vendor (in million units)

Samsung has been holding leadership in smartphone shipments for more than two years, despite Q4 2016 and Q4 2017, when it was outpaced by Apple. At present, the company’s share of the world’s total smartphones shipments volume is equal to appr. 21%. In Q1 and Q2 of 2018, Samsung shipped appr. 78.2 and 71.5 million smartphones, respectively.

Apple is the second biggest smartphone vendor worldwide. Apple has maintained the second position for several years with a share of the world’s smartphone shipments varying between 14-16%. In Q4 2016 and Q4 2017, the company surpassed Samsung in terms of smartphone shipments and was in the first position. However, Apple was overtaken by Huawei in Q2 2018 and moved to the third position. Last year, Apple captured a 14.7% share of the global smartphone shipments volume.

Market shares of 5 dominant smartphone vendors, Q1 2018

Market shares of 5 dominant smartphone vendors, Q1 2018

Huawei has pushed into the top 5 smartphone vendors in Q4 2012 and took the third place in Q3 2013. For more than 4 years, the company has maintained the third spot on the list of the leading smartphone vendors with a share increasing from 4.8% in Q3 2013 to 11.8% in Q1 2018. In Q2 2018, Huawei overtook Apple as the world second biggest smartphones vendor and shipped around 54.2 million units.

Xiaomi is in the fourth place regarding smartphone shipments. The company has maintained the fifth spot since 2014, despite the year 2016 when it was outpaced by Vivo. In 2017, Xiaomi’s share of the world’s smartphones shipments was around 6.3%. In Q1 and Q2 of 2018, Xiaomi overtook Oppo to become the fourth leading vendor and shipped 28.3 and 32 million units, respectively.

Oppo is the fifth leading vendor of smartphones in the world. The company made its way to the smartphones market in Q1 2015 with a share of appr. 2.2% of the global smartphones shipments volume. Since early 2015, Oppo’s share increased at a healthy rate, and in Q1 2016 the vendor moved to the fourth place in the world in terms of smartphones shipments, shipping nearly 15.5 million units. Last year, Oppo’s share of the overall smartphone shipments was estimated at 7.5%. However, it fell to the fifth position in H1 2018 outpaced by Xiaomi.

© MarketPublishers.com, 2018

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